The Idea of Snow
“Advice is like snow — the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Con Behind The Rooftop: Photoshoot for the waiting game.
ntents Waiting Game
The Pleasure of Imagination P. Bloom IIX
Vanoise Procrastination National Park S. Kim XXVII
J. Surowiecki LXII
Journey To Everest
D. James XLVI
Game Words by Rachael Oakes-Ash
I’m in love w ith a commitaphobe,
snow. R ight now he’s play ing ha rd to get. W hile I’m wa iting for him
in New Zea la nd he’s clea rly seeing someone else in Austra lia . Some seasons a re like that, it’s a ll in the timing, if you’re on the w rong side of the stor m cycle then someone else w ill be enjoy ing the snow’s love a nd you’ll be wa k ing up a lone. T he cur rent Aug ust weather cycle in both Austra lia a nd New Zea la nd has been more P ina Colada tha n mulled w ine w ith high temperatures followed by ga le force w inds. T ha nk f ully for the sk i resor ts snow retur ned this week w ith epic conditions repor ted in New South Wa les a nd Victor ia . T he sa me epic conditions New Zea la nd was boasting a month a go. Yet here I sit a lone across the ditch, a photog rapher a nd sk i pro in ha nd wa iting to shoot the a ma z ing clubfields of Oly mpus, Broken R iver a nd Cra ig iebur n sa livating over Facebook photos of my fr iends frolick ing in the white stuf f back home in Oz . Snow is
on his way a ga in in Ca nterbur y
Snow chasing. L ike most
on New Zea la nd’s South Isla nd.
commitaphobes, snow doesn’t
We just have to hope this ga le
like to be tied dow n, he a lso
force w ind leaves sooner rather
prefer s it when you play ha rd to
tha n later so I ca n enjoy his love.
get. Chasing him a ll over tow n
T here a re, however, some
from one sk i v illa ge to a nother
way s to ensure he ma kes a n
only ma kes him r un faster. If you
appea ra nce.
hea r he’s been sha r ing his love in
P redicting the weather in the
a nother pa r t of the countr y a nd
mounta ins is never easy but
you pick up a nd sta r t r unning to
there a re some law s unto the
meet him he’ll only disappea r.
snow that a lmost g ua ra ntee he w ill ma ke a n appea ra nce. Drink the sky blue. T his one
Burning an old pair of skis. Some folk believe in sacr ificing thing s to the snow gods. Ma ny a n
never fa ils. It gets bor ing sit ting
old pa ir of sk is has been bur nt
out a snow stor m you k now w ill
in the hope this w ill please the
br ing deep powder. Day one it’s
weather gods. Miss Snow It A ll
ea rly to bed but hy ster ia k ick s
think s they have got it w rong,
in when the stor m continues for
bur n a bra nd new pa ir of sk is
day s a nd eventua lly you’ll find
a nd it’s more likely snow w ill
your self at the ba r pulling a n
appea r. W hy ? Because you’ll
a ll nighter, da ncing on ba r tops
have nothing good to r ide on.
a nd ma k ing mayhem only to
T he Austra lia n Sk i A reas
wa ke w ith a sore head a nd dr y
A ssociation puts the number
mouth to a blue bird day, if you
of sk ier s a nd boa rder s in
ca n get out of bed to enjoy it.
Austra lia at ha lf a million a nd
The injury rule. T w ist a n
w ith a three month season we
a nk le, tea r a k nee liga ment
ca n’t a ll get the good day s. T he
or hur t your shoulder a nd you
more time you spend at the
ca n be g ua ra nteed the ha rd
snow the more likely you w ill
pack you fell on yesterday w ill
get the pick of the snow stor ms
be replaced w ith f luf f y fresh
a nd the more likely you may
snow tomor row. Enough sa id.
a lso be tur ning ma r shma llow s
on the fire in the lodge rather
the w ind blew the clouds away to
tha n tur ning snow on the hill.
a powder day fina lly. L etâ€™s just
We spent three day s going
say we were glad we didnâ€™t g ive
stir cra z y in the Por tillo Hotel in Chile in 2008 as a ser ious
up a nd go home the day before. In New Zea la nd in mid
bli z z a rd closed the roads a nd the
September a few yea r s back we
lif ts. With only four day s lef t of
had g iven up w inter for spr ing
a one week stay the dow n day s
which had fast become summer
ser ved up more tha n t wo metres
only to wa ke to a stor m from the
of fresh snow a nd we were not
south dumping for t y centimetres
ask ing for our money back.
plus in the backcountr y just
A r r iv ing in T hredbo this yea r to what appea red as ra in in the
when we had g iven up hope. Snow repor ter s may not
v illa ge mea nt we spent day one of
a lway s get it r ight, they may
our three - day lif t pass indoor s.
ex a ggerate the snow when it
T he ra in was snow up top a nd
does come or play it dow n when
it doesn’t but there a re a number of good snow repor ting websites that a ny good sk ier or boa rder has book ma rked. If you think a n isoba r ser ves a lcohol then best you rely on other s to g ive you the weather facts. In Austra lia ‘Pete the F rog Taylor’ is the g ur u of weather stor ms w ith both shor t a nd lon g t e r m f o r e c a s t s t h a t a re consistently accurate. Mounta inwatch of fer s both snow forecasts a nd independent web ca ms, a nd yes, Miss Snow It A ll has been k now n to pen a stor y or t wo for them but that doesn’t mea n
this is a g ratuitous plug. Sk i.com.au publishes snow repor ts a nd a for um of would be meteorolog ists ta k ing their g uess at the weather. In New Zea la nd you ca n mi x up the Metser v ice, Met v uw a nd snow forecast sites w ith the Mounta in Sa fet y website a nd hope for the best. T he micro climates sy stem in New Zea la nd of ten mea ns a ny thing ca n happen. T his is a good thing.
I m a g i n a t i n Words by Paul Bloom
The Pleasure of
Our main leisure activity is, by a long shot, participating in experiences that we know are not real. When we are free to do whatever we want, we retreat to the imagination—to worlds created by others, as with books, movies, video games, and television (over four hours a day for the average American), or to worlds we ourselves create, as when daydreaming and fantasizing. While citizens of other countries might watch less television, studies in England and the rest of Europe find a similar obsession with the unreal. This is a strange way for an animal to spend its days. Surely we would be better off pursuing more adaptive activities—eating and drinking and fornicating, establishing relationships, building shelter, and teaching our children.
How do Americans spend their leisure time? The answer might surprise you. The most common voluntary activity is not eating, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. It is not socializing with friends, participating in sports, or relaxing with the family. While people sometimes describe sex as their most pleasurable act, timemanagement studies find that the average American adult devotes just four minutes per day to sex.
Instead, 2-year-olds pretend to be lions, graduate students stay up all night playing video games, young parents hide from their offspring to read novels, and many men spend more time viewing Internet pornography than interacting with real women. One psychologist gets the puzzle exactly right when she states on her Web site: “I am interested in when and why individuals might choose to watch the television show Friends rather than spending time with actual friends.” One solution to this puzzle is that the pleasures of the imagination exist because they hijack mental systems that have evolved for real world pleasure. We enjoy imaginative experiences because at some level we do not distinguish them from real ones. This is
a powerful idea, one that I think is basically though not entirely right. The capacity for imaginative pleasure is universal, and it emerges early in development. All normal children, everywhere, enjoy playing and pretending. There are cultural differences in the type and frequency of play. A child in New York might pretend to be an airplane; a hunter gatherer child will not. In the 1950s, American children played Cowboys and Indians; not so much anymore. In some cultures, play is encouraged; in others, children have to sneak off to do it. But it is always there. Failure to play and pretend is a sign of a neurological problem, one of the early symptoms of autism. Developmental psychologists have long been interested in children’s appreciation of the distinction between pretense and reality. We know that children who have reached their fourth birthday tend to have a relatively sophisticated understanding, because when we ask them straight out about what is real and what is pretend, they tend to get it right. What about younger children? Two year olds pretend to be animals and airplanes, and they can understand when other people do the same thing. A child sees her father roaring and prowling like a lion, and might run away, but she doesn’t act as though she thinks her father is actually a lion. If she believed that, she would be terrified. The pleasure children get from such activities would be impossible to explain if they didn’t have a reasonably sophisticated understanding that the pretend is not real. It is an open question how early this understanding emerges, and there is some intriguing experimental work exploring this. My own
hunch is that even babies have some limited grasp of pretense, and you can see this from casual interaction. A useful way to spend time with a 1-year-old is to put your face up close and wait for the baby to grab at your glasses or nose or hair. Once there is contact, pull your head back and roar in mock rage. The first time you get a bit of surprise, maybe concern, a dash of fear, but then you put your head back and wait for the baby to try again. She will, and then you give the pretend-startled response. Many babies come to find this hilarious. (If the baby is an eye-poker, you can wrestle over keys instead.) For this to work, though, the baby has to know that you are not even a little bit angry; the baby must know that you are pretending. Why do we get pleasure from the imagination? Isn’t it odd that toddlers enjoy pretense, and that children and adults are moved by stories, that we have feelings about characters and events that we know do not exist? As the title of a classic philosophy article put it, how can we be moved by the fate of Anna Karenina? The emotions triggered by fiction are very real. When Charles Dickens wrote about the death of Little Nell in the 1840s, people wept—and I’m sure that the death of characters in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series led to similar tears. (After her final book was published, Rowling appeared in interviews and told about the letters she got, not all of them from children, begging her to spare the lives of beloved characters such as Hagrid, Hermione, Ron, and, of course, Harry Potter himself.) A friend of mine told me that he can’t remember hating anyone the way he hated one of the
characters in the movie Trainspotting, and there are many people who can’t bear to experience certain fictions because the emotions are too intense. I have my own difficulty with movies in which the suffering of the characters is too real, and many find it difficult to watch comedies that rely too heavily on embarrassment; the vicarious reaction to this is too unpleasant. These emotional responses are typically muted compared with the real thing. Watching a movie in which someone is eaten by a shark is less intense than watching someone really being eaten by a shark. But at every level - physiological, neurological, psychological - the emotions are real, not pretend. Does this suggest that people believe, at some level, that the events are real? Do we sometimes think that fictional characters actually exist and fictional events actually occur? Of course, people get fooled, as when parents tell their children about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, or when an adult mistakes a story for a documentary, or vice versa. But the idea here is more interesting than that—it is that even once we consciously know something is fictional, there is a part of us that believes it’s real. There is something to this: It can be devilishly hard to pull apart fiction from reality. There are several studies showing that reading a fact in a story—and knowing that it is fiction— increases the likelihood that you
believe the fact to be true. And this makes sense, because stories are mostly true. If you were to read a novel that takes place in London toward the end of the 1980s, you would learn a lot about how people in that time and place talked to one another, what they ate, how they swore, and so on, because any decent storyteller has to include these truths as a backdrop for the story. The average person’s knowledge of law firms, emergency rooms, police departments, prisons, submarines, and mob hits is not rooted in real experience or nonfictional reports. It is based on stories. Someone who watched cop shows on television would absorb many truths about contemporary police work (“You have the right to remain silent”), and a viewer of a realistic movie such as Zodiac would learn more. Indeed, many people seek out certain types of fiction (historical novels, for example) because they want a painless way of learning about reality. We go too far sometimes. Fantasy can be confounded with reality. For example, the publication of The Da Vinci Code led to a booming tourism industry in Scotland, by people accepting the novel’s claims about the location of the Holy Grail. Then there is the special problem of confusing actors with the characters they play. Leonard Nimoy, an actor born in Boston to Yiddish-speaking Russian immigrants, was frequently confused with his best-known role, Mr. Spock, from the planet
Vulcan. This was sufficiently frustrating that he published a book called I Am Not Spock (and then, 20 years later, published I Am Spock). Or consider the actor Robert Young, star of one of the first medical programs, Marcus Welby, M.D., who reported getting thousands of letters asking for medical advice. He later exploited this confusion by appearing in his doctor persona (wearing a white lab coat) on television commercials for aspirin and decaffeinated coffee. There is, then, an occasional blurring between fact and reality. In the end, though, those brought to tears by Anna Karenina are perfectly aware that she is a character in a novel; those people who wailed when J.K. Rowling killed off Dobby the House Elf knew full well that he doesn’t exist. And even young children appreciate the distinction between reality and fiction; when you ask them, “Is such-and-so real or make-believe?,” they get it right. Why, then, are we so moved by stories? David Hume tells the story of a man who is hung out of a high tower in a cage of iron. He knows himself to be perfectly secure, but, still, he “cannot forebear trembling.” Montaigne gives a similar example, saying that if you put a sage on the edge of a precipice, “he must shudder like a child.” My colleague, the philosopher Tamar Gendler, describes the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass walk way that extends 70 feet from the canyon’s rim. It is supposedly a thrilling experience. So thrilling that some people drive several miles over a dirt road to get there and then discover that they are too afraid to step onto the walk-
way. In all of these cases, people know they are perfectly safe, but they are nonetheless frightened. In an important pair of papers, Gend-ler introduces a novel term to describe the mental state that underlies these reactions: She calls it “alief.” Beliefs are attitudes that we hold in response to how things are. Aliefs are more primitive. They are responses to how things seem. In the above example, people have beliefs that tell them they are safe, but they have aliefs that tell them they are in danger. Or consider the findings of Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, that people often refuse to drink soup from a brand-new bedpan, eat fudge shaped like feces, or put an empty gun to their head and pull the trigger. Gendler notes that the belief here is: The bedpan is clean, the fudge is fudge, the gun is empty. But the alief is stupid, screaming, “Filthy object! Dangerous object! Stay away!” The point of alief is to capture the fact that our minds are partially indifferent to the contrast between events that we believe to be real versus those that seem to be real, or that are imagined to be real. This extends naturally to the pleasures of the imagination. Those who get pleasure voyeuristically watching real people have sex will enjoy watching actors having sex in a movie. Those who like observing clever people interact in the real world will get the same pleasure observing actors pretend to be such people on television. Imagination is Reality Lite a useful substitute when the real pleasure is inaccessible, too risky, or too much work. Often we experience ourselves as the agent, the main character, of an imaginary event. To use a term favored by psychologists who work in this area, we get transported. This is
how day dreams and fantasies typically work; you imagine winning the prize, not watching yourself winning the prize. Certain video games work this way as well: They establish the illusion of running around shooting aliens, or doing tricks on a skateboard, through visual stimulation that fools a part of you into thinking—or believing—that you, yourself, are moving through space. For stories, though, you have access to information that the character lacks. The philosopher Noël Carroll gives the example of the opening scene in Jaws. You can’t be merely taking the teenager’s perspective as she swims in the dark, because she is cheerful, and you are terrified. You know things that she doesn’t. You hear the famous, ominous music; she doesn’t. You know that she is in a movie in which sharks eat people; she thinks that she is living a normal life. This is how empathy works in real life. You would feel the same way seeing someone happily swim while a shark approaches her. In both fiction and reality, then, you simultaneously make sense of the situation from both the character’s perspective and from your own. Samuel Johnson, writing about Shakespeare, said: “The delight of tragedy proceeds from our consciousness of fiction; if we thought murders and treasons real, they would please no more.” Johnson was a brilliant writer, but plainly he had never heard of O.J. Simpson. If he had, he’d realize that we get plenty of pleasure from real tragedy. Indeed, Shakespeare’s tragedies depict precisely the sorts of events that we most enjoy witnessing in the real world—complex and tense social interactions revolving around sex, love, family, wealth, and status. I have argued that our emotions are partially insensitive to the contrast between
real versus imaginary, but it is not as if we don’t care—real events are typically more moving than their fictional counterparts. This is in part because real events can affect us in the real world, and in part because we tend to ruminate about the implications of real-world acts. When the movie is finished or the show is canceled, the characters are over and done with. It would be odd to worry about how Hamlet’s friends are coping with his death because these friends don’t exist; to think about them would involve creating a novel fiction. But every real event has a past and a future, and this can move us. It is easy enough to think about the families of those people whom O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering. But there are also certain compelling features of the imagination. Just as artificial sweeteners can be sweeter than sugar, unreal events can be more moving than real ones. There are three reasons for this. First, fictional people tend to be wittier and more clever than friends and family, and their adventures are usually much more interesting. I have contact with the lives of people around me, but this is a small slice of humanity, and perhaps not the most interesting slice. My real world doesn’t include an emotionally wounded cop tracking down a serial killer, a hooker with a heart of gold, or a wisecracking vampire. As best I know, none of my friends has killed his father and married his mother. But I can meet all of those people in imaginary worlds. Second, life just creeps along, with long spans where nothing much happens. The O.J. Simpson trial lasted months, and much of it was deadly dull. Stories solve this problem—as the critic Clive James once put it, “Fiction is life with the dull bits left out.” This is one reason why
Friends is more interesting than your friends. Finally, the technologies of the imagination provide stimulation of a sort that is impossible to get in the real world. A novel can span birth to death and can show you how the person behaves in situations that you could never otherwise observe. In reality you can never truly know what a person is thinking; in a story, the writer can tell you. So while reality has its special allure, the imaginative techniques of books, plays, movies, and television have their own power. The good thing is that we do not have to choose. We can get the best of both worlds by taking an event that people know is real and using the techniques of the imagination to transform it into an experience that is more interesting and powerful than the normal perception of reality could ever be. The best example of this is an art form that has been invented in my lifetime, one that is addictively powerful, as shown by the success of shows such as The Real World, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Fear Factor. What could be better than reality television?
Stats & Facts
With global warming having a huge influence on todayâ€™s world and the constant season changes, here are a selection of snowsport related facts and statistics. Learn something new.
12% OF THE EARTH IS PERMANENTLY COVERED IN SNOW
TAKE THE DAY OFF WHEN IT SNOW
PRODUCES THE P E R F E C T SNOWBALL
UK HEAVIEST SNOWFALL
THE AVERAGE SNOWFLAKE FALLS AT 3.1MPH
180 BILLION WATER MOLECOLES CREATE 1 SNOWFLAKE
THE LARGEST RECORDED SNOW-FLAKE WAS 15” WIDE
T O T A L L E D .
3 3 1 5
C O N C U S S I O N S T O T A L L E D .
6 5 0 0
A L L I N J U R I E S
HELMETS PROTECT UPTO 12MPH
2X NON HELMET USER
MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM HEAD INJURY 1998 MORE THAN 16,000 HEAD INJURIES US
% o f f a t a l i t i es a re c a use d b y trees
vanoise national park
Words by Sarah Kim
Vanoise National Park, the first national park of France, lies just south of the Mont Blanc Massif along the spine of the Haute Alpes, or High Alps, in the Savoie region of France. A small park by American standards, the Vanoise National Park covers a little over 520 square kilometers (200 square miles) but encompasses an impressive diversity of flora, fauna, geology, views, and points of interest. Chamois, ibex, marmots, 125 species of birds including golden eagles, various owls, and three-toed woodpeckers, as well as an enormous array of alpine wildflowers all thrive in the valleys and peaks of Vanoise. The geology ranges from sedimentary sandstone and limestone
Le Parc national de Vanoise, le premier parc national de France, reste juste le sud du Mont Blanc Massif le long de l’épine du Haute Alpes, ou Hautes Alpes, dans la région de Savoie de France. Un petit parc par les normes américaines, le Parc national de Vanoise couvre un peu plus de 520 kilomètres carrés (200 miles carrés) mais entoure une diversité impressionnante de flore, la faune, la géologie, les vues, et les points d’intérêt. Le chamois, ibex, les marmottes, 125 espèce d’oiseaux y compris les aigles royaux, les divers hiboux, et les pics de trois-toed, de même qu’un tableau énorme de fleurs des champs alpines que tous prospèrent
to metamorphic schist and gneiss, all showing signs of the extensive glaciation that shaped the Alps. The tremendous range of altitude through the park (770m - 2796m or 2,541ft - 9,227ft) provides habitat for many species of flora and fauna, as well as breathtaking views of snowcapped Alps and green valleys. Established in 1963 as the first French National Park, the Vanoise is separated into two zones: the Central zone, or park proper, with 528 square kilometers (203 square miles), and a Peripheral zone of 1450 square kilometers (557 square miles) which surrounds the central zone as a buffer of protection to ensure the pristine nature of the central park zone. The peripheral zone allows people less restricted access to nearly wild lands and the opportunity to experience traditional alpine community life without compromising the preservation goal of the central zone. The central zone abuts the Italian border and the Gran Paradiso National Park of Italy, which covers an area of 720 square kilometers (276 square miles), making this the largest protected area in Western Europe. Despite their size and rugged nature, the European Alps are heavily used by hikers, farmers, herders, and skiers. The purpose of the Vanoise National Park is to preserve a section of Alps from the daily use by people, and to hike through this area is to see the Alps in their natural state, away from the crowds that frequent the more accessible portions of this extensive mountain range. The area the national park encloses could not have been more carefully chosen for its dramatic scenery and abundant wildlife. One of the best ways to explore the Vanoise Park is by foot. There are nearly 500 kilometers of footpaths crisscrossing the park, varying in difficulty from easy
dans les vallées et les sommets de Vanoise. La géologie étend du grès et du calcaire sédimentaires au schiste de metamorphic et du gneiss, tous les signes de démonstration de la glaciation vaste qui a formé les Alpes. La gamme fantastique d’altitude par le parc (770m - 2796m ou 2,541ft - 9,227ft) fournit l’habitat pour beaucoup d’espèce de flore et la faune, de même que les vues stupéfiantes d’Alpes neigeplafonné et de vallées vertes. Confirmé dans 1963 comme le premier Parc national français, le Vanoise est séparé dans deux zones : la zone Centrale, ou garer correct, avec 528 kilomètres carrés (203 miles carrés), et une zone Périphérique de 1450 kilomètres carrés (557 miles carrés) qui entoure la zone centrale comme un tampon de protection garantir la nature immaculée de la zone de parc centrale. La zone périphérique permet du moins d’accès limité aux gens aux terres presque sauvages et l’occasion d’éprouver la vie de communauté alpine traditionnelle sans compromettre l’objectif de préservation de la zone centrale. La zone centrale aboutit la frontière italienne et le Parc national de Paradiso de Mamie d’Italie, qui couvre un secteur de 720 kilomètres carrés (276 miles carrés), ceci faisant le plus grand secteur protégé à Europe de l’Ouest. Malgré leur taille et leur nature robuste, les Alpes européennes sont lourdement utilisées par les randonneurs pédestres, les agriculteurs, les bergers, et les skieurs. Le but du Parc national de Vanoise est de conserver une section d’Alpes de l’usage quotidien par les gens, et aller à pied par ce secteur est de voir les Alpes dans leur état naturel, loin des foules qui fréquentent les portions plus accessibles de cette gamme de montagne vaste. Le secteur que le
to very strenuous. There are also some technical mountaineering and peak-bagging opportunities. In addition, the Grande Randonnie 5 and the Grande Randonnie 55, two long distance alpine trails, both traverse the park from north to south. Including the Vanoise National Park as part of a one of these longer hikes can be especially interesting; the change in climate, ecology, and environment from north to south along the Alps is swift and dramatic. Tent camping is not allowed inside the park; however, overnight hikers have the opportunity to enjoy hut-to-hut hiking, as there are about eleven huts inside the park boundary and over twenty along its perimeter. As with all Alpine huts, or refuges as they are called locally, the accommodations vary from large bunk rooms to private double rooms. Most huts are manned in July and August and serve dinner and breakfast, which are generally included in the overnight fee. Reservations are strongly encouraged during July and August, although trails are passable and some huts are open from June through October (snow makes trails impassable during the late fall, winter, and spring). If day hiking is more to your liking it is possible to do so from one of the perimeter towns. Four places on the perimeter offer interpretive walks of about two hours: Villarodin-Bourget, Champagny-en-Vanoise, Val d’Ishre, and Pralognan-la-Vanoise. From any of these sites, other day hikes could be undertaken as well. Due
parc national n’enclot pas aurait pu être plus soigneusement choisi pour ses paysages dramatiques et sa faune abondante. Une des meilleures façons pour explorer le Parc de Vanoise est par le pied. Il y a presque 500 kilomètres de trottoirs qui entrecroisent le parc, variant dans la difficulté de facile à très énergique. Il y a aussi quelque alpinisme technique et occasions sommet-retenant. Par ailleurs, le Grande Randonnie 5 et le Grande Randonnie 55, deux pistes alpines longue distance, les deux traversent le parc du nord au sud. Y compris le Parc national de Vanoise comme la partie d’un un de ces randonnées plus longues peut s’intéresser surtout ; le changement dans le climat, l’écologie, et l’environnement du nord au sud le long des Alpes est rapide et dramatique. Le camping de tente n’est pas permis dans le parc ; toutefois, les randonneurs pédestres de nuit ont l’occasion d’apprécier la hutte-àla randonnée de hutte, comme il y a à peu près onze huttes dans la frontière de parc et plus de vingt le long de son périmètre. Comme avec toutes les huttes Alpines, ou refuges comme ils sont localement appelés, l’hébergement varie des grandes pièces de couchette aux doubles pièces privées. La plupart des huttes sont maniés au mois de juillet et août et sert du dîner et le petit déjeuner, qui est généralement inclus dans les frais de nuit. Les réservations sont fortement encouragées pendant juillet et août, bien que les pistes sont passables
to the remote nature of the Vanoise National Park, hikers should have basic outdoor skills, carry plenty of water and food. In addition, all hikers are asked to respect the following guidelines: do not bother the animals, do not pick the wildflowers, do not camp, fish, or hunt, do not bring your dog. Stay on the trails, and respect those living near the park and the work of those managing the park.
et quelques huttes sont ouvertes de juin par octobre (les marques de neige traînent infranchissable pendant la dernière chute, le dernier hiver, et le dernier printemps). Si aller à pied de jour plus est à votre aime que c’est possible de faire si d’une des villes de périmètre. Quatre lieux sur l’offre de périmètre promenades interprétatives d’à peu près deux heures : VillarodinBourget,Champagny-en-Vanoise, Val d’Ishre, et Pralognan-la-Vanoise. De n’importe lequel de ces sites, ces autres randonnées de jour pourraient être aussi entreprises. En raison de la nature éloignée du Parc national de Vanoise, les randonneurs pédestres devraient avoir des compétences extérieures fondamentales, porter assez d’eau et assez de nourriture. Par ailleurs, tous les randonneurs pédestres sont demandés de respecter les indications suivantes : ne pas ennuyer les animaux, ne pas choisir les fleurs des champs, ne pas camper, pêche, ou chasser, ne pas amène votre chien. Rester sur les pistes, et respecter ces vie près du parc et le travail de ces gérer le parc.
360 Exploration A series of images that use the basis of panarama to reflect an explorative process into three hundred and sixty degree imagery. The images can reveal unusual aspects into the mountain scenery.
1. The Begining
The Journey To Basecamp
2. The Struggle
The Journey To Basecamp
3. The Victory
The Journey To Basecamp
Words by Jenny Johnston Goodness. What has Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards done with his Olympic spirit? For a minute it’s starting to sound as if he’s packed it away with his Mr Magoo glasses, all those ‘hardly worn’ ski-suits and the medal he got for taking part in the most famous games on earth. As the next generation of Olympic hopefuls take to the slopes in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games this weekend, he’s back home in Britain, in a not dissimilar climate. We have been discussing our very own oddly Arctic conditions and I assume he’s spent the past few months flinging himself from great snowy heights, possibly to Mrs Eddie Edwards’s great irritation. Not so, apparently. We live in Stroud, in the valley, so yes, there has been some great snow. My wife keeps looking out, saying: “Why don’t you go and have a ski today?” I say: “it would be’ nice, but...” ‘ But what? ‘Well, I could start at the top of the common and ski all the way down into Stroud, which is a mile and a half, but then I’d have to walk all the way back up again, wouldn’t I? If I feel like a ski, I’d sooner go to the artificial slope in Gloucester, because then I can get the lift back up. ‘Once I was out at the slope every night. Now, not so much. I’ve got mortgages, two little girls, my wife. I mostly ski for promotional stuff, just a quick down-the-slope for the cameras.’ It’s more than 20 years since Eddie stood atop a ski-slope in Calgary in a borrowed ski-suit
and battered skis but with the hopes - and astonishment - of the nation on his shoulders. Of course, he came last, and by some margin, but could anyone else have come last with such aplomb? Today, Eddie remains one of our best-loved Olympians, up there with Sir Steve Redgrave in terms of affection, if not sporting prowess. People do insist on remembering him as our greatest-ever loser, but as he points out: ‘How can I be the loser when I’m the one who is remembered. How many people actually know who won the gold?” Well, the name - and his image, hurtling down that slope, glasses steamed up to the point that he couldn’t see - may be unforgettable, but the face is no longer recognisable. The man who greets me at the door doesn’t look anything like Eddie the Eagle and confirms he is Eddie only after I tell him who I am. If I were not a journalist, he would be ‘Michael’, which is his real name (‘Well Michael the Eagle wouldn’t have worked, would it?’ he points out, helpfully), and the one he uses with clients. Many, it seems, don’t actually know they are having their loft extensions done by a bona fide Olympic hero, and it’s not just down to the fact that he pitches up for work in overalls, rather than salopettes. Physically he’s undergone a transformation. A few years back he had an operation to reset that famously prominent lower jaw, after his dentist convinced him there really was no need to go through life unable to chew
properly (‘I had to tear like this rather than bite like this,’ he says, demonstrating nimbly on a teacake). Those bottle-bottom glasses are also long gone. A company specialising in laser surgery offered him free treatment, on account of his celebrity, and he was, again, happy to oblige. ‘I’ve kept them, though, and I will put them on if people want it. People expect to see me in them. It’s daft really, because I can’t see through them, but, I don’t like to disappoint.’ He seems to have acquired a taste for self-improvement. Later this year, he tells me with a grin, he is off to Budapest to get his teeth ‘done’. Somehow Eddie’s face - open, regular, balanced - now fits his personality. He’s not quite as kooky or as vacant as his features once seemed to suggest. And with teeth the colour of snowcaps, he’ll be positively dashing. I tell him if he were an Olympic competitor today, he would be fighting the women off. He giggles, and says he always was, even with the glasses. ‘Yeah, yeah, I had a number of marriage proposals, all that stuff. Women used to write to me and say: “If you are ever in the Birmingham area, pop over.” Weird. Sadly my sister used to run my fan club, so I never saw a lot of those. She whisked them out! ‘There were also a lot of women in nightclubs when I was doing personal appearances. That was crazy. Before, I’d never once talked to a woman in a nightclub. It just wouldn’t have happened.
‘She knew all about me, but I think she was relieved to find out that I wasn’t the sort of person people assume I must be.’ The myth always was that Eddie the Eagle was a joke, a geeky nobody from a country with no snow who somehow tricked his way into the Olympics and wasn’t found out until he was at the top of a ski-slope, with the eyes of the world on him. It wasn’t quite that far-fetched, of course. Eddie had started skiing at the age of 13, on a school trip and had been good enough to compete internationally. Desperate to compete in the Olympics, he switched to the less-crowded sport of ski-jumping, despite the fact that there were, er, no ski jumps in Britain. He first represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships, on account of the fact that there was no one else, and was ranked 55th in the world. This performance qualified him, as the sole British applicant, for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski-jumping competition. Aware early on in Calgary that his novelty could make him some
I’d always been able to ski up to them on a skislope - I was always more confident there - but in a bar, never. Suddenly, they were approaching ME.’ He shakes his head and takes a schlurp of tea. At the risk of being intrusive, did he partake? ‘Not as much as I should have done,’ he grins. ‘I had a girlfriend at the time of the Olympics and when that ended, I did have a few one-night stands, but maybe five, tops, in all that time. ‘Not that I even saw them as onenight stands. They were always girls I would have seen again, if
I hadn’t heading off to do another PR appearance. I think I always had too much respect for them to be a love-’emandleaveem type.’ And he wonders why some never considered him a proper sporting legend? He met his wife Sam while working as a parttime radio presenter and, bizarrely enough, studying for a law degree. She was his co-presenter. They married in Vegas in 2003, in a drivethrough ceremony at the Little White Wedding Chapel. Clearly, by then, Eddie had developed a taste for the glitz.
money - he had no sponsorship and couldn’t afford ski boots, hence the famous six pairs of socks inside his borrowed ones - he decided to indulge the British Press. ‘The interest started building about this mad Brit, so I made a big deal about being scared at the top of that big slope. It was true. I defy anyone up there and not terrified, but the point is I wasn’t scared enough to stop doing it.’ He was an overnight media star, all the more so when he arrived for his first press conference and found his way barred by a security guard. ‘He said: “You don’t look like an Olympic athlete,” and wouldn’t let me in. The media loved that.’ After Calgary, Eddie the Eagle was suddenly big business. There were international appearances, including one on the Johnny Carson show. He says he was never proud. He dressed up as a chicken for a promotional job, because the client hadn’t been able to find an eagle costume. ‘Once I was making £10,000 for an hour’s work, but there
have been years where my promotional stuff has brought in only a few hundred. I’m not daft. I always say my first job is my building trade. The rest comes and goes.’ And how. It continues to irk that, despite regarding himself as a particularly canny person, he was declared bankrupt in 1992. He blamed those who ran a trust fund on his behalf, claiming mismanagement meant money which should have been set aside for tax was not, meaning he could not meet the taxman’s bill. Furious, he set about suing his trustees for negligence, and eventually reaching an out-of-court settlement. ‘I only got back maybe 30 per cent of the money but it was the principle that was important,’ he says. ‘What really peeved me, was I knew people would be thinking: “Oh, he is a loser with money as well as in sport.” It just wasn’t the case.’ What’s remarkable is he went back to school to fight this case, taking first GCSEs and A-levels, then a law degree. That shows doggedness, I
venture. ‘Oh yes. When I want to do something I will get my head down and get on with it. I’ve always been like that.’ How his stubbornness must have dismayed the sports industry bigwigs, whom, he claims, ‘still hate me’. ‘They are still embarrassed by me. They say it wasn’t right that a guy who came 58th should get more attention than the guy who won the event. They thought I was making a mockery of the sport, bringing it into disrepute.’ Still, he travelled to Winnipeg last month to carry the Olympic torch for the opening ceremony of these games. Surely wounds had healed? ‘No, it was the Canadian tourist authorities who invited me to do that. I’m still persona non grata with the Olympic ones, and the British Ski Federation for that matter. That makes it all the better when I get invited to do these things. It’s another stick in their ribs to say: ‘I’m still around, you can’t get rid of me.’ And he really isn’t going to go away. Indeed, the Eddie The Eagle story
could soon be brought to the big screen, starring Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films. ‘He can’t start filming until he is clear of his Harry Potter commitments, and with everything I won’t believe it until it actually happens, but I’m quite excited,’ says Eddie. ‘The script is about more than just laughing at me. It’s looking at what I did, and what it meant. It’s about life as well as the Olympics. ‘Is it all about winning? Of course not. Even today, I always say it was never about medals.
I don’t even have my participation medal on display. My gold medal was the taking part, and that will never leave me.’ And it helps, presumably, that Rupert Grint is a genuine heartthrob, almost handsome, in a certain snow-bright light? ‘Oh yes,’ he laughs. ‘That is most excellent casting.’
An insight to slope signage, showing the genral constant signs that are seen throughout the accessible ski domain.
Green signage marks the easy slopes Blue signage marks the average slopes Red signage marks the difficult slopes Black signage marks the very difficult slopes
Orange pole markers represent the right hand side of the slope
First aid and rescue points
8 SLOPE The Colour = Level of difficulty of the slope The name of the run The Number = Position on the slope
Universal avalanche risk flags, the risk of avalanche is measured from 1 - 5
Yellow flag marks a moderate risk of 1 - 2
Chequered flag marks a high risk of 3 - 4
Black flag marks a very high risk of 5
Mountain Transport i. Drag Lift, ii. Difficult Drag Lift, iii. Chairlift, iv. Gondola,
Slope Danger i. Crossed Chequered Poles ii. Solid Black Cross
UN CO NV EN T I ON AL
G N I T R O P S
Why do we have to do leisure activities at a certain time and place? Why is
Here we have touched on a concept of pursueing unconventional sporting.
there a conventional way to be interacting with sport?
What does Procrastination tell us about ourselves? words by James Surowiecki
S ome years ago, the economist George Akerlof found himself faced with a simple task: mailing a box of clothes from India, where he was living, to the United States. The clothes belonged to his friend and colleague Joseph Stiglitz, who had left them behind when visiting, so Akerlof was eager to send the box off. But there was a problem. The combination of Indian bureaucracy and what Akerlof called “my own ineptitude in such matters” meant that doing so was going to be a hassle—indeed, he estimated that it would take an entire workday. So he put off dealing with it, week after week. This went on for more than eight months, and it was only shortly before Akerlof himself returned home that he managed to solve his problem: another friend happened to be sending
some things back to the U.S., and Akerlof was able to add Stiglitz’s clothes to the shipment. Given the vagaries of intercontinental mail, it’s possible that Akerlof made it back to the States before Stiglitz’s shirts did. There’s something comforting about this story: even Nobel-winning economists procrastinate! Many of us go through life with an array of undone tasks, large and small, nibbling at our conscience. But Akerlof saw the experience, for all its familiarity, as mysterious. He genuinely intended to send the box to his friend, yet, as he wrote, in a paper called “Procrastination and Obedience” (1991), “each morning for over eight months I woke up and decided that the next morning would be the day to send the Stiglitz box.” He was always about to send the box, but the moment to act never arrived. Akerlof, who became one of the central figures in behavioral economics, came to the realization that procrastination might be more than just a bad habit. He argued that it revealed something important about the limits of rational thinking and that it could teach useful lessons about phenomena as diverse as substance abuse and savings habits. Since his essay was published, the study of procrastination has become a significant field in academia, with philosophers, psychologists, and economists all weighing in. Academics, who work for long periods in a self-directed fashion, may be especially prone to putting
things off: surveys suggest that the vast majority of college students procrastinate, and articles in the literature of procrastination often allude to the author’s own problems with finishing the piece. (This article will be no exception.) But the academic buzz around the subject isn’t just a case of eggheads rationalizing their slothfulness. As various scholars argue in “The Thief of Time,” edited by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White (Oxford; $65)—a collection of essays on procrastination, ranging from the resolutely theoretical to the surprisingly practical—the tendency raises fundamental philosophical and psychological issues. You may have thought, the last time you blew off work on a presentation to watch “How I Met Your Mother,” that you were just slacking. But from another angle you were actually engaging in a practice that illuminates the fluidity of human identity and the complicated relationship human beings have to time. Indeed, one essay, by the economist George Ainslie, a central figure in the study of procrastination, argues that dragging our heels is “as fundamental as the shape of time and could well be called the basic impulse.” Ainslie is probably right that procrastination is a basic human impulse, but anxiety about it as a serious problem seems to have emerged in the early modern era. The term itself (derived from a Latin word meaning “to put off for tomorrow”) entered the English language in
the sixteenth century, and, by the eighteenth, Samuel Johnson was describing it as “one of the general weaknesses” that “prevail to a greater or less degree in every mind,” and lamenting the tendency in himself: “I could not forbear to reproach myself for having so long neglected what was unavoidably to be done, and of which every moment’s idleness increased the difficulty.” And the problem seems to be getting worse all the time. According to Piers Steel, a business professor at the University of Calgary, the percentage of people who admitted to difficulties with procrastination quadrupled between 1978 and 2002. In that light, it’s possible to see procrastination as the quintessential modern problem. It’s also a surprisingly costly one. Each year, Americans waste hundreds of millions of dollars because they don’t file their taxes on time. The Harvard economist David Laibson has shown that American workers have forgone huge amounts of money in matching 401(k) contributions because they never got around to signing up for a retirement plan. Seventy per cent of patients suffering from glaucoma risk blindness because they don’t use their eyedrops regularly. Procrastination also inflicts major costs on businesses and governments. The recent crisis of the euro was exacerbated by the German government’s dithering, and the decline of the American auto industry, exemplified by the bankruptcy of G.M., was due in part to executives’ penchant for delaying tough decisions. (In Alex Taylor’s recent history of G.M., “Sixty to Zero,” one of the key conclusions is “Procrastination doesn’t pay.”) Philosophers are interested in procrastination for another reason. It’s a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia—doing something against one’s own better judgment. Piers Steel defines procrastination as willingly deferring something even though you expect the delay to make you worse off. In other words, if you’re simply saying “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” you’re not really procrastinating. Knowingly delaying because you think that’s the most efficient use of your time doesn’t count, either. The essence of procrastination lies in not doing
what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy. In one study, sixty-five per cent of students surveyed before they started working on a term paper said they would like to avoid procrastinating: they knew both that they wouldn’t do the work on time and that the delay would make them unhappy. Most of the contributors to the new book agree that this peculiar irrationality stems from our relationship to time—in particular, from a tendency that economists call “hyperbolic discounting.” A twostage experiment provides a classic illustration: In the first stage, people are offered the choice between a hundred dollars today or a hundred and ten dollars tomorrow; in the second stage, they choose between a hundred dollars a month from now or a hundred and ten dollars a month and a day from now. In substance, the two choices are identical: wait an extra day, get an extra ten bucks. Yet, in the first stage many people choose to take the smaller sum immediately, whereas in the second they prefer to wait one more day and get the extra ten bucks. In other words, hyperbolic discounters are able to make the rational choice when they’re thinking about the future, but, as the present gets closer, short-term considerations overwhelm their long-term goals. A similar phenomenon is at work in an experiment run by a group including the economist George Loewenstein, in which people were asked to pick one movie to watch that night and one to watch at a later date. Not surprisingly, for the movie they wanted to watch immediately, people tended to pick lowbrow comedies and blockbusters, but when asked what movie they wanted to watch later they were more likely to pick serious, important films. The problem, of course, is that when the time comes to watch the serious movie, another frothy one will often seem more appealing. This is why Netflix queues are filled with movies that never get watched: our responsible selves put “Hotel Rwanda”
and “The Seventh Seal” in our queue, but when the time comes we end up in front of a rerun of “The Hangover.” The lesson of these experiments is not that people are shortsighted or shallow but that their preferences aren’t consistent over time. We want to watch the Bergman masterpiece, to give ourselves enough time to write the report properly, to set aside money for retirement. But our desires shift as the long run becomes the short run. Why does this happen? One common answer is ignorance. Socrates believed that akrasia was, strictly speaking, impossible, since we could not want what is bad for us; if we act against our own interests, it must be because we don’t know what’s right. Loewenstein, similarly, is inclined to see the procrastinator as led astray by the “visceral” rewards of the present. As the nineteenth-century Scottish economist John Rae put it, “The prospects of future good, which future years may hold on us, seem at such a moment dull and dubious, and are apt to be slighted, for objects on which the daylight is falling strongly, and showing us in all their freshness just within our grasp.” Loewenstein also suggests that our memory for the intensity of visceral rewards is deficient: when we put off preparing for that meeting by telling ourselves that we’ll do it tomorrow, we fail to take into account that tomorrow the temptation to put off work will be just as strong. Ignorance might also affect procrastination through what the social scientist Jon Elster calls “the planning fallacy.” Elster thinks that people underestimate the time “it will take them to complete a given task, partly because they fail to take account of how long it has taken them to complete similar projects in the past and partly because they rely on smooth scenarios in which accidents or unforeseen problems never occur.” When I was writing this piece, for instance, I had to take my car into the shop, I had to take two unanticipated trips, a family member fell ill, and so on. Each of these events was, strictly speaking, unexpected, and each took time away from my work. But they were really just the kinds of problems you predictably have to deal with in everyday life. Pretending I wouldn’t have any
interruptions to my work was a typical illustration of the planning fallacy. Still, ignorance can’t be the whole story. In the first place, we often procrastinate not by doing fun tasks but by doing jobs whose only allure is that they aren’t what we should be doing. My apartment, for instance, has rarely looked tidier than it does at the moment. And people do learn from experience: procrastinators know all too well the allures of the salient present, and they want to resist them. They just don’t. A magazine editor I know, for instance, once had a writer tell her at noon on a Wednesday that the time-sensitive piece he was working on would be in her in-box by the time she got back from lunch. She did eventually get the piece— the following Tuesday. So a fuller explanation of procrastination really needs to take account of our attitudes to the tasks being avoided. A useful example can be found in the career of General George McClellan, who led the Army of the Potomac during the early years of the Civil War and was one of the greatest procrastinators of all time. When he took charge of the Union army, McClellan was considered a military genius, but he soon became famous for his chronic hesitancy. In 1862, despite an excellent opportunity to take Richmond from Robert E. Lee’s men, with another Union army attacking in a pincer move, he dillydallied, convinced that he was blocked by hordes of Confederate soldiers, and missed his chance. Later that year, both before and after Antietam, he delayed again, squandering a two-to-one advantage over Lee’s troops. Afterward, Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck wrote, “There is an immobility here that exceeds all that any man can
conceive of. It requires the lever of Archimedes to move this inert mass.” McClellan’s“immobility” highlights several classic reasons we procrastinate. Although when he took over the Union army he told Lincoln “I can do it all,” he seems to have been unsure that he could do anything. He was perpetually imploring Lincoln for new weapons, and, in the words of one observer, “he felt he never had enough troops, well enough trained or equipped.” Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination, and many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle. McClellan was also given to excessive planning, as if only the ideal battle plan were worth acting on. Procrastinators often succumb to this sort of perfectionism. Viewed this way, procrastination starts to look less like a question of
mere ignorance than like a complex mix ture of weakness, ambition, and inner conflict. But some of the philosophers in “The Thief of Time” have a more radical explanation for the gap between what we want to do and what we end up doing: the person who makes plans and the person who fails to carry them out are not really the same person: they’re different parts of what the game theorist Thomas Schelling called “the divided self.” Schelling proposes that we think of ourselves not as unified selves but as different beings, jostling, contending, and bargaining for control. Ian McEwan evokes this state in his recent novel “Solar”: “At moments of important decision-making, the mind could be considered as a parliament, a debating chamber. Different factions contended, short- and long-term interests were entrenched in mutual loathing. Not only were motions tabled and opposed, certain proposals were aired in order to mask others. Sessions could be devious as well as stormy.” Similarly, Otto von Bismarck said, “Faust complained about having two souls in his breast, but I harbor a whole crowd of them and they quarrel. It is like being in a republic.” In that sense, the first step to dealing with procrastination isn’t admitting that you have a problem. It’s admitting that your “you”s have a problem. If identity is a collection of competing selves, what does each of them represent? The easy answer is that one represents your short-term interests (having fun, putting off work, and so on), while another represents your long-term goals. But, if that’s the case, it’s not obvious how you’d ever get anything done: the short-term self, it seems, would always win out. The philosopher Don Ross offers a
persuasive solution to the problem. For Ross, the various parts of the self are all present at once, constantly competing and bargaining with one another—one that wants to work, one that wants to watch television, and so on. The key, for Ross, is that although the television-watching self is interested only in watching TV, it’s interested in watching TV not just now but also in the future. This means that it can be bargained with: working now will let you watch more television down the road. Procrastination, in this reading, is the result of a bargaining process gone wrong. The idea of the divided self, though discomfiting to some, can be liberating in practical terms, because it encourages you to stop thinking about procrastination as something you can beat by just trying harder. Instead, we should rely on what Joseph Heath and Joel Anderson, in their essay in “The Thief of Time,” call “the extended will”—external tools and techniques to help the parts of our selves that want to work. A classic illustration of the extended will at work is Ulysses’ decision to have his men bind him to the mast of his ship. Ulysses knows that when he hears the Sirens he will be too weak to resist steering the ship onto the rocks in pursuit of them, so he has his men bind him, thereby forcing him to adhere to his long-term aims. Similarly, Thomas Schelling once said that he would be willing to pay extra in advance for a hotel room without a television in it. Today, problem gamblers write contracts with casinos banning them from the premises. And people who are trying to lose weight or finish a project will sometimes make bets with their friends so that if they don’t deliver on their promise it’ll cost them money. In 2008, a Ph.D. candidate at Chapel Hill wrote software that enables people to shut off their access to the Internet for up to eight hours; the program, called Freedom, now has an estimated seventy-five thousand users. Not everyone in “The Thief of Time” approves of the reliance on the extended will. Mark D. White advances an idealist argument rooted in Kantian ethics: recognizing procrastination as a failure of will, we should seek to strengthen the will rather than relying on external
controls that will allow it to atrophy further. This isn’t a completely fruitless task: much recent research suggests that will power is, in some ways, like a muscle and can be made stronger. The same research, though, also suggests that most of us have a limited amount of will power and that it’s easily exhausted. In one famous study, people who had been asked to restrain themselves from readily available temptation—in this case, a pile of chocolate-chip cookies that they weren’t allowed to touch—had a harder time persisting in a difficult task than people who were allowed to eat the cookies. Given this tendency, it makes sense that we often rely intuitively on external rules to help ourselves out. A few years ago, Dan Ariely, a psychologist at M.I.T., did a fascinating experiment examining one of the most basic external tools for dealing with procrastination: deadlines. Students in a class were assigned three papers for the semester, and they were given a choice: they could set separate deadlines for when they had to hand in each of the papers or they could hand them all in together at the end of the semester. There was no benefit to handing the papers in early, since they were all going to be graded at semester’s end, and there was a potential cost to setting the deadlines, since if you missed a deadline your grade would be docked. So the rational thing to do was to hand in all the papers at the end of the semester; that way you’d be free to write the papers sooner but not at risk of a penalty if you didn’t get around to it. Yet most of the students chose to set separate deadlines for each paper, precisely because they knew that they were otherwise unlikely to get around to working on the papers early, which meant they ran the risk of not finishing all three by the end of the semester. This is the essence of the extended will: instead of trusting themselves, the students relied on an outside tool to make themselves do what they actually wanted to do. Beyond self-binding, there are other ways to avoid dragging your feet, most of which depend on what psychologists might call reframing the task in front of you. Procrastination is driven, in part, by the gap between
effort (which is required now) and reward (which you reap only in the future, if ever). So narrowing that gap, by whatever means necessary, helps. Since open-ended tasks with distant deadlines are much easier to postpone than focussed, shortterm projects, dividing projects into smaller, more defined sections helps. That’s why David Allen, the author of the best-selling time-management book “Getting Things Done,” lays great emphasis on classification and definition: the vaguer the task, or the more abstract the thinking it requires, the less likely you are to finish it. One German study suggests that just getting people to think about concrete problems (like how to open a bank account) makes them better at finishing their work—even when it deals with a completely different subject. Another way of making procrastination less likely is to reduce the amount of choice we have: often when people are afraid of making the wrong choice they end up doing nothing. So companies might be better off offering their employees fewer investment choices in their 401(k) plans, and making signing up for the plan the default option. It’s hard to ignore the fact that all these tools are at root about imposing limits and narrowing options—in other words, about a voluntary abnegation of freedom. (Victor Hugo would write naked and tell his valet to hide his clothes so that he’d be unable to go outside when he was supposed to be writing.) But before we rush to overcome procrastination we should consider whether it is sometimes an impulse we should heed. The philosopher Mark Kingwell puts it in existential terms: “Procrastination most often arises from a sense that there is too much to do, and hence no single aspect of the to-do worth doing. Underneath this rather antic form of action-as-inaction is the much more unsettling question whether anything is worth doing at all.” In that sense, it might be useful to think about two kinds of procrastination, the kind that is genuinely akratic and the kind that’s telling you that what you’re supposed to be doing has, deep down, no real point. The procrastinator’s challenge, and perhaps the philosopher’s, too, is to figure out which is which.
DON’T EAT SNOW
Apr It’s been dumping like a broken hearted woman possessed in the snow fields of Australia this past week and wherever there is snow there is a good time to be had. Snow and party go together like Amy and Rehab, Pina and Colada, Jagie and Red Bull.
Some snow destinations just scream
That’s not to say every skier and
‘apres’ from the fur lined piste of Aspen in
boarder is a die hard heathen who loses his/her
Colorado to the dance in your ski boots
integrity at the lift ticket office but those who
madness of St Anton Austria to the celebriski
come just to ski or snowboard in style are not
crowd of Klosters in Swizterland. Where there
half as much fun to talk about.
is snow there is someone wearing beer goggles,
Some of the best apres I have
making the bright decision to toboggan home
experienced has been in the generator run bar
after dark from the pub, waking up next to a
of Craigieburn club field in New Zealand’s
stranger with half an eyebrow shaved off,
Canterbury region. After an invigorating day
using the chairlift tower for pole dancing and
skiing fresh powder, hiking ridge lines and
smiling for Facebook cameras of strangers.
hauling our butts by tow rope up the hill, we
settled down into some serious bonding time
wealthy wanting to beat their chest with their
with our fellow lodgers at the bar swapping ski
Black Amex cards and outdo each other in the
war stories from around the globe. Only at this
spending, and drinking, stakes. The Coco
bar there is a minimum number required, less
Club’s ‘Chalet Cocktail’ costs five thousand
than eight people and they flick the generator
pounds and comes with a life membership to
switch and shut up shop, which made for some
the be aeen with the royal celebrity
interesting games of
grown men play dress up nightly, waltzing into
The Sundance Film Festival in Park
In thirty days in Verbier I witnessed
City Utah is a week dedicated to apres where
bars dressed as chickens, pink panthers and
what happens off the slopes surpasses what
gorillas. One bloke showed up in a full naked
happens on. In Aspen, Colorado it’s all about
fat suit complete with attached genitalia,
the Sky Hotel when skiers descend upon the
another in head to toe leopard skin and a giant
Sky Bar from last lifts for cocktails with their
Afro wig on hormones.
instructors or to the Little Nell for plastic
Snow fields are open fodder for fancy
people watching. It is all very civilised, to start. dress, it must be the lack of oxygen. Canadian
Not so in Verbier, Switzerland where
Mountain Holidays heli ski lodges have a
the local Farinet Hotel opens the doors on their
closet dedicated to dress up for the last night
Apres Bar from 5pm and shuts them promptly
party of every heli ski week. Think sequins,
at 9pm. A lot of damage can be done in four
feather boas, grass skirts, top hats and
hours with a cover band belting out crowd
anything worthy of a Jim Hanson muppet.
shouting tunes, barmen shouting out ‘shot for a Telluride resort in Colorado holds an annual top’ and obliging young lasses dancing in their
Chocolate Lovers Fling mid mountain party
bra on the bar.
with a changing theme from seventies retro
The philosophy in Verbier is ski hard,
party hard. A ski destination originally
founded for phenomenal off piste free skiing
yearly retro ski day when all the one pieces and
and later designed for the snow ploughing
toothpick thin skis come out to play and in
Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand has a
Falls Creek the lifties get in on the act with an
annual film festival parties in a state long
eighties fashion day and more mullet wigs
known for it’s Mormon mocktail philosophy?
than the AFL.
shaking their heads with a ‘tsk tsk’ as most die
Australians know how to apres with
The puritans amongst us will be
the best of them. When Jagermeister ran a
hard skiers and boarders go to the snow for
week long sales competition for their southern
just that - the snow. Partying is for ‘leisure
hemisphere retail outlets in 2005, it was Falls
skiers and boarders’ who don’t know their
Creek’s The Frying Pan pub, nicknamed the
piste from their pissed. Instead it is early to
Friars, that was leading the field, selling sixty
bed for these snow folk when there are fresh
nine bottles in under a week. Word got out to
tracks in the offering. For them it is all about
The Man pub and the fight was on. Together
‘avant’ not ‘apres’.
they sold over a hundred bottles. That is one
hell of a hangover.
City Utah with one Charlie Sturgess. This hard
core mountain man took my crew of three on a
Of course we’re not the only booze
We managed to mix the two in Park
hounds at the snow. World records have been
full day skinning three thousand metre
broken at ski resorts around the world. The
backcountry peaks, burning our thighs and
maverick man of Whistler and owner of the
adrenal glands in the process. At the end of the
Bear Foot Bistro, Andres St Jacques, broke the
day we took him to a small backstreet bar in
world champagne sabering record, capping
town and spent two hours debriefing our magic
thirty champagne bottles with a sabre sword in day over a well earned cocktail. There wasn’t a under a minute. When it all gets too much and chicken suit, a shot glass or a dance floor in the liver can no longer cope then those pushed
sight but you could have lit the room with our
over the edge by their apres drinking ways can
tired ass grins.
check into the Lindsay Lohanesque celebrity
filled Cirque Lodge in the ski town of
without hitting the snow first. It is like gin
Sundance, Utah in the powder laden Wasatch
without the tonic.
Let’s face it you can’t have apres
Ranges. Do we need to point out the irony of a rehab centre in a ski resort known for it’s
http://blogs.smh.com.au/travel/archives/2009/08/weather_or_not_the_snow_waitin.html http://chronicle.com/article/The-Pleasures-of-Imagination/65678 http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/vanoise-national-park-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid361820.html http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250362/Meet-new-Eddie-Eagle.html http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/10/11/101011crbo_books_surowiecki?currentPage=all http://blogs.smh.com.au/travel/archives/2009/07/apres_dark_what_happens_when_t.html
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